Full>Busy

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Well, I’m back less than a month since my last post so we’ll consider that a win for the team, right?

I wanted to check back in with an update since my announcement that I’ve removed the word busy from my vocabulary.  On December 24th I announced that for the year of 2017 I’ve given up busyness.  The truth is, this has been surprisingly easy and incredibly rewarding.  I know that sounds impossible.  And honestly, if you’re my friend in real life it will surprise you even more.

Last year I traveled not only around the world (US to New Zealand to Australia) but about 15 times domestically (not for work).  I hosted 10ish houseguests for overnights, regular book clubs (2), bible studies, and a high school youth group.  As I heard other people talk about how busy I am, I kept feeling surprised (also, maybe, a little annoyed).  Something has to change, I thought.  I do not want people to immediately think ‘busy’ when they think of me.

So I’m fasting busyness and replacing it with fullness.  I thought when I set about this commitment that the result would be doing less.  The truth is, I’m doing more than ever.  Hang tight, this might make sense in a minute.  I realized that I was organizing and scheduling my life to death.  When I stopped doing that and left a little space in my calendar (and my brain) I actually got MORE done.

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In December I hosted a birthday party for a friend and promptly fell in love with my friend’s friends.  I heard myself say ‘we should do this every month’.  Normally I avoid saying things that sound like me volunteering to organize something.  But who doesn’t have a  night a month to have fun?  Last month, we went to paint pottery.  We ordered Uber Eats sushi or Chipotle and met as soon as we could all gather from work or for some, waiting for their husbands to get home from work.  I painted the platter in the picture above.

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I started leaving my Friday mornings open to just be at home.  Amazingly, this resulted in purging my garage, every closet, my kitchen cabinets, and even old DVDs I never watch anymore because: Hulu.  I finally planted flowers in a pot for my front porch and repotted succulents for the back porch.  I took a Friday morning and drove to a local plant grower and talked with him about the kind of sun my porch gets and my crazy life of travel and what I might actually be able to keep alive.  I bought a pot with drainage (because apparently succulents need that).

You’re probably thinking, great, you took a morning off and you planted flowers.  So what’s that really say about getting more done?  Well, I’ve also read 26 books towards my goal of 125 this year.  I took on meeting with gals who are also reading through the bible in a year. I booked flights to see my best friend, to take my nieces and nephew on individuals dates, and I took a weekend to fly down and help my Mom move.  I even texted a friend who’s going through a hard time and said – girls weekend?  Let’s get out of here.  And we are.

In the next two months my college roommate AND my best friend are making trips down here where I get to take them to the beach, cook them meals, and take them shopping.  I even sat down this week and made a list of fun things we could do while they’re here and their favorite food and drinks I want to have on hand for their visits.

I’ve learned to cook new meals and bake new goodies.  I’ve had room in my head to remember birthdays, special events, and I’ve spent more time praying with and for my friends and family.  I scheduled all my dentist, doctor, even skin cancer checks for the year by mid-February.

Saying no to busy has meant a lot more spontaneous ‘yes’ too.  Yes to brunch on Sunday’s after church.  Yes to ‘can we come over early to hangout before group?’.  Yes to writing hand written letters with my 5 year old niece.  Yes to facetimes with my friends and their kids who live far away.  Yes to watching a coworkers new baby so they can get out of the house without paying for a sitter.  I’ve even somewhat kept up with laundry this year.

So maybe this just sounds like I’m doing things I always should have been.  True.  But somehow in the busyness of my life before I never really felt like I was enjoying those items.  I sent cards and acknowledged birthdays but I didn’t have time to really think about them.  I made trips to visit people but I got there and it was like whew, I’m exhausted.  I read books and I loved it but I rarely had a quiet morning with coffee to do it. And yes, sooner or later the laundry got done, the drawers got cleaned out, and friends got a phone call.  In fact, I may have been more ‘perfect’ in 2016 but I’ve definitely been more ‘present’ in 2017.

The best part is this – I like full Becca a lot better than busy Becca.  Because she’s fun.  She says ‘hey, let me teach you this new game I got for Christmas’ when she’s sitting out in the driveway chatting with her neighbors.  She enjoys sitting on FaceTime learning about the stretchy dinosaurs her nephew loves.  She thinks to offer to lend a crimper to a friend attending an 80s event and to send ‘hey this flight is on sale -come visit me’ texts to her friends so they can plan a beach trip.

It’s very possible that as you read this is makes no sense to you because you’re fun all the time and never flustered.  I hope for your sake that you don’t care quite as much as I do about to do lists, tasks, and clean floors.  But for me, I’m celebrating the wins.  That when your friends say they’ve had a bad day you get to say ‘come on over’ and you put down what you’re doing and just be there.  I don’t get to do this all day everyday but I get to do it.

So cheers, to slow mornings and full lives.  To scheduling less but somehow doing more.  To having room in your head to solves a few of your friends problems.  To being thoughtful and fun.  To getting a lot done but knowing when to just be present too.  Trust me, full is so much better than busy.

Oh and here’s a bonus.  The recipe for the best cake I’ve made in a WHILE: Pink Champagne Cake.

 

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Top 3 Fiction Reads

Frequently I receive texts, e-mails, and even facebook messages (don’t send me these – I hate them and I’m terrible at responding to them) asking for book recommendations.  So, for those of you who are not my friends on Goodreads here’s some recommendations if you’re hoping to get some reading in over the summer.  I’m drowning in library books which I’m hoping to do some damage on this weekend with 2 flights and 3 full days in Dania Beach.  But in case you’re trying to snag a few from your local library before a trip here’s a few I loved…

Top 3 Fiction Reads of 2016 (so far)

(the first 2 books received 5 stars on my goodreads this year)

The Lake House 

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Big Little Lies

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Eight Hundred Grapes

Shoutout to my neighbor who recommended this read after her book club did it and my newly formed long distance book club (via google hangout) read this last month.  We unanimously loved it.

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I read fiction and nonfiction in equal measure so I will likely do a list for nonfiction reads as well in the near future.  I do LOVE to give away/pass on/recommend books but I subscribe faithfully to my Dad’s belief that you should only recommend books that you’ve read so I will not be posting what I plan to read.  I’m more than halfway through my goal to read 54 books this year so this seemed a fitting time to post.  You’re welcome to e-mail me recommendations as well but I should warn you my reading schedule is full until at least the fall.

First Commandment of Being Becca

I’m currently reading the book ‘The Happiness Project’ by Gretchen Rubin and taking copious notes.  This girl has so many things figured out.  But one of my favorite pieces of the puzzle of her happiness project is that she wrote her own commandments for her life.  Before anyone gets too bent out of shape this is in no way to say that the biblical 10 Commandments don’t reign supreme, for me.  But I liked the concept of setting your own commandments to live your life by.

So I started my own and today I’m sharing the first.  The first commandment I’m choosing to live by (and let me tell you, I have to re-choose this on a daily basis) is this:

1.  Don’t Take it Personal

If you know me in real life you may be surprised by this admission but: I take MOST things entirely too personally.  Despite being confident, quirky, and more than a little sassy on a daily basis I am extremely hard on myself. As a result, I tend to take things too personally that other people say.  The hardest place to apply this, for me, is actually in the workplace.  In making this commandment I am choosing to take people’s challenges, questions, or need for clarifications as feedback.  And using each opportunity to explain, grow, and develop in my role.  In this, I am choose not to see them as questioning my work ethic or my ability to perform my job well.  This gives my coworkers, family, and friends the benefit of the doubt that their inquiries or suggestions are well intentioned and it (I hope) will allow me to grow, pleasantly,and increase the feedback I get so that I continue to be moldable moving forward.

Stay tuned for further commandments as I’m on my own little happiness project journey.  And I recommend reading Gretchen’s list as well.

One less. One more.

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Although recent political campaigns may have poisoned the word for me, I’ve always been a lover of change. At a young age I figured out that if I wanted to badly enough I could always find a way to change my situation. Sometimes changing it was far more difficult than allowing it to stay the same but my parents will tell you, I was never a child afraid of hard work.

So when I received the opportunity to read and review a copy of Robbie Vorhaus’ book, One Less. One more., it was the subtitle that drew me in: follow your heart. Be happy. Change slowly. Having just finished the I Am consulting program I feel newly empowered to live a positive life and to change my habits which are in turn changing my life slowly but steadily. So this book sounded right up my alley.

Before I continue I do want to say that I am a Christian but I do not stay within the confines of Christian literature. There are many amazing books out there authored by people with conflicting beliefs and I am comfortable with that. However, this book had a particularly new age feel to it that was a bit out of my comfort zone – for example, Vorhaus writes that the most magnificent mentor in the universe is our spirit and heart. Of course I would disagree with this as I believe the most magnificent mentor is our creator, Christ. However, agreeing to disagree on a few points I did still have some takeaway ‘nuggets’.

Vorhaus writes, ‘Mastering your life and fulfilling your heart’s purpose is not a race, it’s an adventure’.  I love this.  For the better part of my twenties I have been choosing to see everything in my life as an adventure and I credit much of that to my Dad.  When I first bought a home and was literally sleeping in the living room on an air mattress because I didn’t have furniture yet he told me when I looked back these would be the best days of my life.  These adventures.  So as I’ve moved, traveled, worked, written, read, blogged, baked, and slowly built a life I love it has been with this attitude – that the journey is an adventure to be savored and enjoyed, not a race.  Or as Hugh Downs is quoted, ‘A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes’.

Perhaps the best takeaway from the book for me personally was this nugget: your head always wants to speed things up, but your heart needs to savor each moment and slow things down’.  I can’t remember a season of life when I wasn’t in a hurry.  I applied early acceptance to college at 15 and was enrolled by 16, taking classes and working towards my adult life long before I would really be an adult.  I spent my senior year of college applying, interviewing, accepting and preparing for my career and left the day after finals and two weeks before graduation to start work 17 hours away.  By 24 I’d bought a house.  By 25 I was already scheming how to get said house paid off.  I’ll never forget a conversation I had with my Dad where he said, ‘Becca, sometimes I feel like you’re trying to be where I am.  But I had a 30 year head start.  Relax.  Enjoy this.  You’ll get here’.  So for me and my crazy head, this was a good reminder to let my heart savor these incredible seasons.

This book has some practical advice for enjoying your life while reducing the things that hold you back.  As I mentioned there were some concepts and ideas that conflicted with my own beliefs but as I usually know to be true – there is wisdom to be found despite the differences.  I’m thankful for people like Robbie Vorhaus who share my belief in personal responsibility and that who you are and the life you live are ultimately ‘on you’.  More than ever I appreciate people, like Robbie Vorhaus, who believe in loving life.

The two things that immediately influence other people are the expression on your face and the clothes you wear.  Even if you don’t think you have the money to spend on expensive clothes, buy the best you can afford.  Think of the clothes you wear and how you dress as an investment in your success. – David Cottrell, Monday Morning Choices

I love this – it costs nothing to have the right expression on your face and very little to appear ‘put together’, you can definitely do that on a budget!

 

Enemies

Every morning after I finish my time in the word (the bible) I follow that up with 20 minutes of educational reading.  The idea came from a book I read about leadership years ago and since then I’ve always tried to stay consistent in the habit of reading.  Readers are leaders, after-all.  My most recent morning read has been a book called ‘Monday Morning Choices’ by Dave Cottrell.  I chose it because I read a book of his several years ago, Monday Morning Leadership, that changed my work life.  When I saw this newer book also by him I thought, I need that in my life.

This week on Tuesday my chapter was called, ‘choose the right enemies’.  I immediately thought, whew, not really what I want to start my day with but I kept reading and as it turns out, it was a great message.  While I didn’t know what to expect from the lesson it was primarily focused on being a person of integrity and surrounding yourself with people who purpose to be the same.  Or as they say in the book ‘either walk with the tallest or walk alone’.  This doesn’t mean your isolate people who are not of the same values as you, it does mean however, they don’t make your inner circle.

Cottrell defines values as ‘the accepted principles or standards of an individual or group’.  So why does it matter if my friends and closest coworkers share my principles?  We naturally purpose to please the people in close proximity to us.  If you’re my friend then I value your opinion of me and my decisions possibly even enough to ask for your advice – so I need to make sure that you value the right things.  Or maybe I shouldn’t say the right things but the same things that I have set as the standard principles of my life, morals, and workplace practices.

So why does having great values and choosing to be closest to those that share them mean we have to have enemies?  Well, if doesn’t mean that we seek them out but it will inevitably mean they will surface anyway.  There was a section of this particular chapter that was appropriately titled ‘no need to create enemies …they will surface on their own’.  So make sure they are the right ones.  The book recommended that you make your enemies in the work place these people:

– Backstabbers – those who betray a confidence or those who constantly discredit others

– People with short tempers – they are often catalysts for anger and discord at any moment

– Those who lose control by drinking too much at business functions

– Rebels against authority – they are on a collision course with failure

– People who rarely do what they say they are going to do

Now, some of these don’t apply to your workplace just like others don’t apply to mine.  For example, I work for a Christian organization so there isn’t drinking at my business functions so over-drinking at them would obviously not be something that comes up.  But I included all of these because what doesn’t apply to me might still apply to you.  The takeaway from today to put into action is this: Choose your enemies and your friends very carefully.  A bad choice can be devastating to your career.  So, surround yourself with people of like values, and maintain your allegiance to those values’.

I loved this chapter because I have spent much of this year focusing on taking personal responsibility for everything in my life.  Through the consulting process everything good or bad came back on me.  How I handled things.  How my choices lead me to a certain result.  And ultimately keeping all the focus on what I can control: me.  So this chapter reminded me that choosing my cohorts and my values and sticking with them in all circumstances will keep me on track with being the type of friend, person, girlfriend, coworker, etc that I desire to be.

I like to shed light on the positives when I can so let me tell you how applying this has worked for me this week.  The sweet gal who sits across from me at work and I have been talking a lot about goals and our home lives.  I shared with her some ideas of how I get things done around the house early in the mornings before work because it frees up my nights for ministry, relaxing, time with friends/boyfriend, etc.  We share the value of keeping a clean, orderly home but not allowing that to take away from things and people that matter more to us.  We texted in the mornings all week encouraging each other and sharing the successes of our early morning mission.  A few days later she came into work and handed me a thank you present and told me that applying some of what we talked about had not only made her more successful but had drastically increased her confidence in herself so tangibly that her husband had even noticed!

Two days later my alarm would go off and I would want to snooze it.  Actually truth be told I did but just as I laid my head back down because of her and her encouragement – I got up!  I didn’t want to let her down.  I rolled out of bed, drank an extra cup of coffee, and still achieved all of my morning goals before work.

Don’t spent your time and energy on the people you cannot please or truly at the end of the day, don’t desire to please.  Search out people who will grow and develop you.  Find the people who are hungry to do things better and spend time with them.  Ask for advice from those who are achieving what you desire too.  Will there be people who dislike you for any number of right or wrong reasons?  Yes.  There will be.  But don’t forget, walk with the tallest or walk alone.

This is the beginning of several lessons I will be sharing over the next few weeks from what I’ve been reading and learning about how I can improve in the workplace and in life outside of my cubicle walls.

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